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Disability Resource Center

Building 44, Rm A-39
phone 202.274.6417 | fax 202.274.5375 | phone 202.274.5579 (tty)

Office Hours
Mon - Friday
8:30am to 5:00pm
 

Required Documentation

Note: The following information is also provided in the DRC Handbook, which is a printable file.

To ensure that the DRC provides reasonable and appropriate services, students are responsible for providing the DRC with current documentation of his/her disability. In order to receive an accommodation(s), students must first submit a completed registration form, as well as documentation that meet the criteria set by this office, based upon Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. DRC may request additional documentation from students if the determination of a disability is inconclusive, if the documentation does not support the accommodations requested, and/or if the documentation is otherwise deemed incomplete or unacceptable. In the case of incomplete or unacceptable documentation, DRC may decide to provide provisional accommodations, determined on an individualized or case-by-case basis, not to exceed one semester in length.

The records kept in our office are strictly confidential and are not part of a student's academic record. Please note: DRC does not directly offer diagnostic testing services, but we can make no-fee referrals to campus and community resources.

Generally, documentation must be no more than three years old. A school plan, such as an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or 504 Plan does not constitute sufficient documentation for any disability. Documentation of any disability must include the following eight elements in order to be considered acceptable by the DRC:

  1. The evaluation must be conducted by a qualified professional.
    Acceptable documentation is provided by a licensed or otherwise properly credentialed professional who has undergone appropriate and comprehensive training, has relevant experience, and has no personal relationship with the individual being evaluated. A good match between the credentials of the individual making the diagnosis and the condition being reported is expected (e.g., an orthopedic limitation might be documented by a physician, but not a licensed psychologist). The name, title and professional credentials of the evaluator, including information about license or certification (e.g., licensed psychologist), the area of specialization, employment, and state/province in which the individual practices should be clearly stated in the documentation.
  2. The documentation must be current.
    Generally, documentation must be no more than 3 years old or conducted no more than 3 years prior to the student's admission to the university. There are some variations for different disabilities, but all documentation must reflect the student's current condition, limitations, and needs. As stated, an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) or 504 Plan does not constitute sufficient documentation for any disability.
  3. A diagnostic statement identifying the disability must be included.
    Quality documentation includes a clear diagnostic statement that describes how the condition was diagnosed, provides information on the functional impact, and details the typical progression or prognosis of the condition. Diagnostic terminology from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual – Fourth Edition (DSM-IV TR) of the American Psychiatric Association or the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF) of the World Health Organization must be used in the report.
  4. A description of the diagnostic methodology used must be included.
    Quality documentation includes a description of the diagnostic criteria, evaluation methods, procedures, tests and dates of administration, as well as a clinical narrative, observation, and specific results. Where appropriate to the nature of the disability, having both summary data and specific test scores (with the norming population identified) within the report is recommended.
    Diagnostic methods that are congruent with the particular disability and current professional practices in the field are recommended. Methods may include formal instruments, medical examinations, structured interview protocols, performance observations and unstructured interviews.
  5. A description of the current functional limitations must be included.
    Information on how the disabling condition(s) currently impacts the individual provides useful information for both establishing a disability and identifying possible accommodations. A combination of the results of formal evaluation procedures, clinical narrative, and the individual's self report is the most comprehensive approach to fully documenting impact. The best quality documentation is thorough enough to demonstrate whether and how a major life activity is substantially limited by providing a clear sense of the severity, frequency, and pervasiveness of the condition(s).
  6. A description of the expected progression or stability of the disability must be included.
    Documentation should provide information on expected changes in the functional impact of the disability over time and context. Information on the cyclical or episodic nature of the disability and known or suspected environmental triggers to episodes provides opportunities to anticipate and plan for varying functional impacts. If the condition is not stable, information on interventions (including the individual's own strategies) for exacerbations and recommended timelines for re-evaluation are helpful.
  7. A description of current and past accommodations, services, and/or medications should be included.
    Comprehensive documentation will include a description of both current and past medications, interventions, auxiliary aids, assistive devices, support services, and accommodations, including their effectiveness in ameliorating functional impacts of the disability. While accommodations provided in another setting are not binding on the current institution, they may provide insight in making current decisions.
  8. Recommendations for accommodations, adaptive devices, assistive services, compensatory strategies, and/or collateral support services should be included.
    The report should include specific recommendations for accommodations that are reasonable to meet the individual's needs. When possible, a detailed explanation of the clinical rationale for each accommodation is recommended. Further, the rationale should be associated with specific functional limitations determined through the testing, interview, and/or observation.

 

Documentation Guidelines for Specific Disabilities

To review specific documentation guidelines, please click on the appropriate link (web content only):

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorders

Learning Disorders

Psychological /Psychiatric Disability

Brain Injury

Hearing and Visual Impairments, Physical Disabilities, and Chronic Health Impairments

Temporary Disabilities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attention-Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorders


Evaluator Qualifications

A current neuropsychological or psycho-educational assessment (within the last 3 years) completed by a qualified professional is required to validate your need for relevant accommodations/services. Professionals conducting assessments and rendering diagnoses of AD/HD must have training in differential diagnosis and pertinent psychiatric disorders. The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to evaluate and diagnose AD/HD provided they have direct experience with an adolescent and/or adult AD/HD population: psychologists, neuropsychologists, psychiatrists, and other relevantly trained medical doctors. Use of diagnostic terminology indicating an AD/HD by someone whose training and experience are not in these fields is not acceptable.

Documentation Requirements

The documentation report for a diagnosis of AD/HD must include the following:

I. Evidence of Early Impairment
Since AD/HD is, by definition in the DSM-IV TR, first exhibited in childhood (although it may not have been formally diagnosed) and manifests itself in more than one setting, relevant historical information is essential. The following should be included in a comprehensive assessment: clinical summary of objective historical information establishing symptomatology indicative of AD/HD throughout childhood, adolescence, and adulthood as garnered from transcripts, report cards, teacher comments, tutoring evaluations, and/or past psychoeducational testing; as well as third party interviews when available.


II. Evidence of Current Impairment
In addition to providing evidence of a childhood history of impairment, the following areas must be investigated:


A. Statement of Presenting Problem
A history of the individual's presenting attentional symptoms should be provided, including evidence of ongoing impulsive/hyperactive or inattentive behaviors that significantly impair functioning in two or more settings.
B. Diagnostic Interview
The information collected for the summary of the diagnostic interview should consist of more than self-report, as information from third party sources is critical in the diagnosis of AD/HD. The diagnostic interview with information from a variety of sources should include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following: history of presenting attentional symptoms, including evidence of ongoing impulsive/hyperactive or inattentive behavior that has significantly impaired functioning over time; developmental, family, and psychosocial history; relevant medical history, including the absence of a medical basis for the symptoms being evaluated; thorough academic history including results of previous standardized testing; relevant employment history; and description of current functional limitations pertaining to an educational setting that are presumably a direct result of problems with attention.


III. Relevant Testing Information Must be Provided
The diagnosis of an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder should be based on a comprehensive assessment that does not rely on any one test or subtest. The assessment of the individual must establish the diagnosis of AD/HD, but must also demonstrate the current impact of the AD/HD on the individual's ability to perform on standardized tests. Standard test scores and percentiles should be provided for all measures. The tests should be deemed reliable and valid for use with the adult population. Standard scores and percentiles should be provided, as well as subtest scores for each measure administered. Please refer to Appendix A of this handbook for this handbook for specific examples of appropriate tests examples of appropriate tests. The following domains must be evaluated and addressed:

A. Aptitude: a complete assessment of the student's intellectual ability or aptitude
B. Academic Achievement: a comprehensive battery which assesses current levels of academic functioning and fluency in relevant areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics (calculation and applications), and oral and written language
C. Information Processing: areas to be assessed include short and long-term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed, executive functioning and motor ability

 

IV. Alternative Diagnoses or Explanations Should be Ruled Out

The evaluator must investigate and discuss the possibility of dual diagnoses and alternative or coexisting mood, behavioral, neurological, and/or personality disorders that may confound the diagnosis of AD/HD. This process should include exploration of possible alternative diagnoses and medical and psychiatric disorders, as well as educational and cultural factors affecting the individual that may result in behaviors mimicking an Attention-Deficit /Hyperactivity Disorder.

 

V. Identification of DSM-IV TR Criteria & Specific Diagnosis
The report must include a specific diagnosis of AD/HD based on the DSM-IV TR diagnostic criteria. The diagnostician must use direct language in the diagnosis, for example DSM-IV TR terminology clarifying subtype such as AD/HD-inattentive type, when appropriate.

 

VI. Clinical Summary
A well-written diagnostic and interpretive summary is a necessary component of the documentation report. It must include:

A. An interpretation of the test findings which indicates how the pattern of scores reflects the influence of an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
B. Discussion of the clinical rationale for ruling out alternative explanations for the academic problems reported
C. A determination of the substantial limitation to learning presented by the disorder and the degree to which it impacts upon the individual's performance in an academic setting
D. Recommendations for specific accommodations, which are linked to testing results and manifestations of the disorder, as well as clear justification for such accommodations.

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Learning Disorders

Evaluator Qualifications

The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to evaluate specific learning disabilities provided they have additional training and experience in differential diagnosis and the assessment of learning problems in adolescents and/or adults: clinical or educational psychologists, school psychologists, neuropsychologists, and learning disabilities specialists. Use of diagnostic terminology indicating a learning disability by someone whose training and experience are not in these fields is not acceptable.

Documentation Requirements

A current psycho-educational assessment (within the last 3 years for incoming students, 5 years for students previously assessed with adult norms) completed by a qualified professional is required to validate the student's need for accommodations/services.


The documentation report for the diagnosis of a Learning Disorder must include the following components:


I. Diagnostic Interview
Relevant information regarding the student's academic history and learning processes in elementary, secondary and post-secondary education should be investigated. The diagnostic interview should include: a description of the problem(s) being presented; developmental, family, and psychosocial history; thorough academic history including results of prior standardized testing; reports of classroom performance, relevant employment and psychosocial history; a discussion of dual diagnoses, alternative or co-existing mood, behavioral, neurological, and/or personality disorders, where indicated.


II. Assessment
The diagnosis of a learning disorder should be based on a comprehensive review that does not rely on any one test or subtest. Standard scores and percentiles should be provided, as well as subtest scores for each measure administered. The tests should be deemed reliable and valid for use with an adolescent/adult population. Please refer to Appendix A of this handbook for specific examples of appropriate tests. Evidence of a substantial limitation to learning must be apparent. The domains to be addressed must include:


A. Aptitude: a complete assessment of the student's intellectual ability or aptitude
B. Academic Achievement: a comprehensive battery which assesses current levels of academic functioning and fluency in relevant areas such as reading (decoding and comprehension), mathematics (calculation and applications), and oral and written language
C. Information Processing: areas to be assessed include short and long-term memory, sequential memory, auditory and visual perception/processing, processing speed, executive functioning and motor ability

IV. Specific Diagnoses
The diagnostician must use direct language in the diagnosis of a learning disorder, using DSM-IV TR terminology where appropriate.

V. Clinical Summary
A well-written diagnostic and interpretive summary is a necessary component of the documentation report. It must include:

A. An interpretation of the test findings to indicate how the pattern of scores reflect the presence of a learning disorder
B. Discussion of the clinical rationale for ruling out alternative explanations for any academic problems noted
C. an assessment of the substantial limitation to learning presented by the Learning disorder and the degree to which it impacts upon the individual's performance in an academic setting
D. Recommendations for specific accommodations linked to those academic needs identified as associated with the disorder, as well as clear justification of the need for such accommodations.

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Psychological /Psychiatric Disability

Evaluator Qualifications

The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to evaluate and diagnose psychiatric disabilities provided they have comprehensive training in differential diagnosis and direct experience with an adult population: licensed clinical psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, psychiatrists, and other relevantly trained medical doctors. Use of diagnostic terminology indicating a psychiatric disability by someone whose training and experience are not in these fields is not acceptable.
 

Documentation Requirements

Documentation for verification of a psychological or psychiatric disability must include:
I. A description of symptoms, history of onset with severity and duration, a definitive diagnosis using DSM-IV TR terminology, and statement of prognosis

II. An indication of the substantive impact of the disability on the student's functioning associated with academic performance, work completion, concentration, class attendance, self-care, social interactions, and any other relevant aspects of collegiate life

III. Medication management plan (if relevant), including side effects, and/or other treatment issues which further compromise the student's functioning, such as sleep problems and impaired memory or judgment

IV. Recommendations for accommodations or services which are linked to the assessment of functional limitations, as well as the clinical rationale for such accommodations

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Brain Injury

Evaluator's Qualifications

Professionals conducting assessments and rendering diagnoses of Brain Injury (BI) must have post-doctoral training in identification and treatment of Brain Injury (i.e. Acquired Brain Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury). The following professionals would generally be considered qualified to evaluate and develop learning strategies for persons with BI: neuropsychologists, educational psychologists with post graduate concentration in cognitive strategy development and remediation, and relevantly trained clinical psychologists. Use of diagnostic terminology indicating a BI by someone whose training and experience are not in these fields is not acceptable.
 

Documentation Requirements

In addition to meeting the general criteria for appropriate documentation of a disability, documentation verifying the presence of BI must include:

I. Assessment of current neuropsychological functioning: In most cases, documentation for ABI should not be older than two years

II. A neuropsychological evaluation containing assessments of intellectual, conceptual, and cognitive competence; academic skills; personality status; motor facility of all extremities; sensory, perceptual and processing efficiency; visual, auditory and tactile facility; speech, language and communication ability; and evaluation of memory and attention

III. Utilization of particular evaluation techniques will be at the clinical discretion of the evaluator. However, measures, such as the following, will be expected to appear in the selected battery: Bender-Gestalt, Halstead Reitain Battery (or selected parts), selected parts of the Illinois Test of Psycholinguistic Ability (ITPA) (or other psycholinguistic tests); Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude - 4 (DTLA-4) or Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude - Adult (DTLA-A); Luria Nebraska Battery (or selected parts); Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT) (or other adult individual achievement tests); Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests- Revised; Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery III; and the Spache Written Language Assessment

IV. An interview including a description of the presenting problem(s); developmental, medical, psychosocial and employment histories; family history; and a discussion of dual diagnosis where indicated

V. An integrated clinical summary which:

A. Indicates the substantial limitations to major life activities posed by the specified brain injury
B. Describes the extent to which these limitations impact the academic context for which accommodations are being requested
C. Suggests how the specific effects of the brain injury may be accommodated, and
D. States how the effects of the brain injury are mediated by the recommended accommodations

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Hearing and Visual Impairments, Physical Disabilities, and Chronic Health Impairments

Evaluator Qualifications

Practitioners who provide documentation for students with hearing or visual impairments, physical disabilities, or chronic health impairments must be medical doctors (M.D.) or other qualified medical specialists (i.e. D.O. or P.A.) who are qualified in the diagnosis of such conditions and who have appropriate training and board certification in the relevant medical specialty.
 

Documentation Requirements

Documentation for verification of a hearing or visual disability must include:

I. Description of symptoms, history of onset with severity and frequency, definitive diagnosis, and statement of prognosis

II. An indication of the impact of the disability on the student's functioning in areas including academic performance, class attendance, work completion, self-care, social interactions, and other relevant aspects of collegiate life

III. Medication management (if relevant), including side effects, and/or other treatment issues that might further compromise the student's functioning, such as sleep problems and impaired memory judgment

IV. Recommendations which are linked to the assessment of functional limitations, as well as the clinical rationale for such accommodations

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Temporary Disabilities

Students may present with a temporary disability, typically a physical injury (e.g. broken arm or recovery from surgery), which may impact their academic performance.

Note: Although temporary disabilities are not covered under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 or the ADA Act of 1990, DRC may provide accommodations or services, determined on a case-by-case basis, to students with documented temporary disabilities.
 

Evaluator Qualifications

Practitioners who provide documentation for students with temporary disabilities must be medical doctors (M.D.) or other medical specialists who are qualified in the diagnosis of such conditions and who have appropriate training and board certification in the relevant medical specialty.
 

Documentation Requirements

Documentation to verify a temporary disability must include:

I. A description of the problem
II. An assessment of how the injury compromises the student's academic performance
III. A prognosis or expected length of impact on the student
IV. Recommendations for needed accommodations or services, such as note taker support or a scribe for exams

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